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Knowledge of Angels

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  993 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
A fable-like tale set in the Middle Ages focuses on two outcasts, an atheistic prince and a wolf child confined to a nunnery, who become pawns in a theological controversy.
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published July 25th 1994 by R&L Yeatman (first published 1994)
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Ursula Le Guin reportedly described this book as "beautiful and disturbing", and I can go with that. I didn't expect to like this; Jill Paton Walsh has left me cold on several previous occasions. But slowly, slowly, I was drawn in by the (alternate?) world presented. The proofs of God's existence parts were tiresome to me, since I've done Religious Studies to A Level and the first year of a philosophy degree, but the story formed around the idea of proving the existence of God is beautiful.

E. Chainey (Bookowski)
Tam yorum ve inceleme için:

Bir ada hayal ettiğinizi düşünün. Ama bu ada bildiğiniz hiçbir yere benzemiyor. Ciudad bu adanın adı. Kardinal ise Severo adlı biri. Ada Hristiyanlık inancının baskın olduğu bir yer ve Hristiyan inancının dışındaki tüm inanışlara kötü gözle bakılıyor (bir yerden tanıdık geldi mi?).

Adada bir gün, yani aynı gün, adada yaşayanların bir kısmı dağda buz gömmek için (yazın satacaklardır) gittikleri yere yakın bir yerde vahşi bir kurt
Apr 04, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fable, unelaborately told and recounted with a truth and simplicity which makes it resonate and seem timeless. The author plays entertainingly, in the prologue, with post-modernist ideas of the way that novels capture time, and the characters are eternally in their own present, poised to undertake their tasks preordained by their author, at the will of the reader - the internal time of the book being somewhere in the 15th century, but the awareness of author and reader are firmly 21st ...more
Aug 17, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting exploration of the shades of faith and unfaith, their intersections and collisions. Of course, I related to the character representing the Enlightenment, up to one passage that just surprised the heck outta me. I don't believe the enlightenment included THAT as a matter of routine. Probably somebody in the Enlightenment advocated such things. Primacy of individualism and all that. The other atheist (wolf girl) also exhibits a deliberately shocking behavior at the same point in the ...more
George Neville-neil
A good book is one the effects you deeply. Although this is a philosophical treatise disguised as a novel, it, nonetheless, hits all the right intellectual chords while also pulling you in to the lives of the characters. I enjoyed going along for the ride and reading both the philosophy and the story itself. The characters are well drawn and lovingly crafted and even if you know the arguments on which it is based you will not be bored. Another point in its favor is that, even though it's written ...more
A great book that makes you think about why you believe what you believe. You cannot convince someone else that God exists or does not exist and no one can prove it to you. Is the knowledge of God innate or learned?

This is one of the most thought-provoking books that I have ever read and one of our best discussions for book club. I highly recommend this book!

In fact, I bought this book, so I could loan it out to people.
Jun 08, 2012 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-inglaterra
Numa ilha, em plena Idade Média, são feitos prisioneiros um náufrago - cujos conhecimentos ao nível da ciência e forma de ver o mundo são superiores e contrários aos dos habitantes da ilha - e uma menina que foi criada por lobos. É um grande livro que fala da crueldade a que são sujeitos aqueles que são diferentes da maioria. Emocionei-me com a capacidade de amar e entrega de algumas personagens. Gostei das dissertações sobre religião. É um livro pequeno mas de uma grande riqueza, ao nível das i ...more
Kristi Thompson
A novel of ideas - debates between an agnostic and some dedicated christians - a philospher following Aquinas, and the devil incarnate in an inquisitor. And the feral child - who hadn't known god - and the reluctant nun. And some free love, and the utopian country of the agnostic, where engineers and artists are princes, and everyone believes as they wish...
A powerful novel about society and the individual. This carefully crafted novel really made me think about the tensions between the individual and a society and the way in which ignorance and fear can quickly turn to persecution of the most gentle person.
Aug 06, 2014 Beverley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine contemporary beliefs and morals and throw them headlong into 15th century pious, unshakeable religious views, and sit back and watch the fireworks. A very different, compelling read, and one which left me thinking about it for days afterwards - thought provoking - always the sign of a good book. A little ploddy during the many religious/counter-religious discussions; a great deal of detail is included which obviously took hours of meticulous research on the part of the writer, but I'm af ...more
Feb 21, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jill Paton Walsh is a master story teller. she knows how to weave a story and keep your attention throughout a book. Knowledge of angels was a story of a wolf child, medieval theology, mystery,and faith. It causes you to question your own beliefs in regard to faith, trust, and understanding of cultures and religions. It was extremely well written and seemed to dwell on what must have been some of the dilemmas and challenges of the time. It captured and held your interest as it moved through the ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Lucynell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heavy on the theological arguments this fable but I don't think much that anyone with elementary curiosity has not already come across. It could go deeper I believe. The story itself is the winner here, the disguise in a way of those arguments, which is pretty cool I think. Especially the story of Amara, the wolf-child, and Josefa, the nun who is appointed her guardian. Actually, all characters are awesome and there's an urgency to the story that reads like a medieval thriller. The language is c ...more
Venetia Green
Nov 12, 2014 Venetia Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deceptively simply written, this is primarily a book of ideas and not very simple ones at all! It explores, via the tales of two people who have never believed in God and are thrust into a theocratic society, the nature of belief and faith in God. We are provided with the elaborate proofs of God's existence only to have them deconstructed by an highly moral atheist and an amoral girl raised by wolves. I was not so keen on the introduction of the inquisition towards the end of the novel - inquisi ...more
Tuğçe Sevin
Jan 02, 2014 Tuğçe Sevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 stars

review to come
Jun 30, 2016 Faisal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: athiesm
Trying to figure out what faith is. Trying to find God through theology?

The book sets up two distinct characters one without any prior knowledge and another with knowledge which leads him to believe that its his business what the nature of his God is.

This set up in the backdrop of the Spanish inquisition makes for an interesting read. People are suppose to fit into boxes no matter how big or small these boxes are if you don't fit in you will be made to conform or made an example of.

The reasons
Feb 03, 2016 Clova rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cant understand the popularity of this book at all. What point does it make? That integrity is futile? The idea of isolating a child and expecting the word of God reminds me of 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster. For some reason the descriptive passages of landscape, of which there were many, did not build any clear images in my mind. Been reading Brothers karamazov and the religious discussion in K of A seems so flimsy and for show, almost like a nonsense in comparison, although I have to sa ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
The story of a wolf-girl slowly intermingles with that of a man unjustly persecuted because of his beliefs.
A young girl, raised by wolves, is captured in the snow by men and brought into the human society. A kindly boy finds help from the Cardinal who in turn decides to perform a religious experiment with the wolf girl. She is brought to a secluded cloister where she is to be kept without any mention of God in her presence. In this way, the Cardinal tries to find out if there is actually a hig
Aug 27, 2009 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon Mcleish
May 02, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in June 1999.

Knowledge of Angels is not exactly a historical novel; though the island of Grandinsula is based on medieval Mallorca, it really exists only in the imagination of Walsh; there is no such country as Aclar. Yet the medieval atmosphere is pervasive; perhaps that is to be expected in a novel whose theme is the conflict between the modern and medieval worldviews.

Medieval Christendom was a society which was very inward looking, where foreigners were ge
Barrett Brassfield
I recently had cause to revisit this excellent novel by Jill Paton Walsh, originally published in 1994 and even after 19 years between readings this beautiful book has lost none of its power. At its heart, Knowledge of Angels is about whether or not we have innate knowledge of God, as opposed to the "reality" of God's existence being imprinted on our consciousnesses through education, indoctrination, and study. The author creates this island nation that exists sometime in the middle ages, an isl ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had bought this book years (like, almost definitely over a decade) ago and kept it in my parents' summer place. Over time, I became less interested in angel topics, and also somewhat suspicious of whether it was promoting soft-core religion. However, a few months ago, I heard a really interesting discussion of it on the radio, and realized they were talking about the same book still sitting next to a bed in upstate NY. Since we'd be visiting my parents, I just decided not to bring a book with ...more
The Idle Woman
One of my favourite books, Knowledge of Angels isn't strictly speaking a historical novel - it doesn't have a precise enough location and date for that - but it uses a vividly-described, idyllic Mediterranean island, teetering on the edge of the Renaissance, as the setting for a compelling fable about faith, tolerance and understanding. The isolated island of Grandinsula is a devout country, ruled by its gentle and humane cardinal-prince, Severo; but the story begins with two discoveries which w ...more
Mar 03, 2016 Lukerik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare novels with a perfect balance of symbolism, theme, character and narrative. It's the only novel I've read where my pulse has started to beat faster when the ontological argument made an appearance, or indeed, where it makes any appearance at all. It would be of particular interest to anyone who has either proselytised or been proselytised at. That said, I read it first before it was done to me and the magic of it has stayed with me all these years.
Aug 31, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Poetically beautiful, as far as historical fiction goes this is one of my favorites. I know that some attributes are not historically accurate (hence the fiction) but the authors ideals about the inquisition are tangible. Talk about putting one's convictions to the test (or should I say "to The Question"). This book asks the questions: How much can one person take before he/she brakes? Walsh makes you feel the Church’s desperation to purify the human race at any cost (one belief, one God); Is G ...more
Frank Brinkley
Dec 18, 2015 Frank Brinkley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a charming, slim book, the like of which it feels isn't being written as much in the 21st century. Knowledge of Angels tackles faith, doubt and our common humanity in a completely engaging, non-pretentious way. It doesn't proclaim itself a novel of ideas (packed as it is with them) or an existential thriller (thrilling as it is) and it is all the stronger for its humility.
David Tomlinson
Interesting throughout but I'm still not sure what I think of it. The story contrasts two opposing people and situations to illustrate the difficulty in proving or disproving a belief. Hat tip to the novel concept of angels having both morning knowledge and evening knowledge: the morning being how things should be and the evening being how things are. The conflicting, frustrating knowledge of both makes angels of us all.
Ashton Wenborn
Nov 26, 2013 Ashton Wenborn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books which is not only enjoyable to read but stays with you even after you've finished. The subject matter, whether knowledge of God is innate and if nature or nurture has the biggest impact on development, is one which grabbed me from the start and kept me hooked throughout. In the book itself it could be argued that very little actually happens and Paton Walsh could easily have lost the reader in the long religious debates but manages not to as a result of her engaging ch ...more
Aug 21, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is a stimulating, troubling book--one of my all-time favorites. It's set a thousand years ago on an island in the Mediterranean that is ruled by a man who is a also a cardinal in the church. The plot centers around the coincidental discovery of a child who had been raised by wolves and an urbane atheist who is stranded on the island. Officials try to convert him so they don't have to execute him. It is a nifty way to learn the classical proofs for the existence of God as well as their refut ...more
Ian McKinley
Feb 06, 2016 Ian McKinley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of a very few number of books I read in a single sitting.

A riveting consideration of the power of organized religion on our freedom of beliefs, sublimely crafted as a juxtaposition of a girl raised in complete ignorance and a foreign prince raised with unorthodox beliefs.
Katrina Zartman
I enjoyed Walsh's descriptions of time and place. However, I was surprised by and uncomfortable with some "adult content" that she included. Some of the paragraphs were easy to skim over, because I wasn't compelled to follow the arguments that the characters were making.
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Jill Paton Walsh was born Gillian Bliss in London on April 29th, 1937. She was educated at St. Michael's Convent, North Finchley, and at St. Anne's College, Oxford. From 1959 to 1962 she taught English at Enfield Girls' Grammar School.

Jill Paton Walsh has won the Book World Festival Award, 1970, for Fireweed; the Whitbread Prize, 1974 (for a Children's novel) for The Emperor's Winding Sheet; The
More about Jill Paton Walsh...

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“[A]fter all, the position of a reader in a book is very like that occupied by angels in the world, when angels still had any credibility. Yours is, like theirs, a hovering, gravely attentive presence, observing everything, from whom nothing is concealed, for angels are very bright mirrors. Hearts and minds are as open as the landscape to their view, as to yours; like them you are in the fabled world invisible.” 0 likes
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